Yahoo Inc rolled out new versions of its popular Web email on Tuesday,
the first major product makeover since Chief Executive Marissa Mayer
took the helm of the struggling Internet company five months ago.
released new versions of its Yahoo Mail product for smartphones and
tablets in keeping with Mayer's focus on mobile devices and a revamped
version of its Web-based mail product for PC users that cuts out
ancillary features and that the company said delivers faster
"You've told us loud and clear that you want fewer
distractions when it comes to email. You want to quickly login,
communicate, and get on with your day," Mayer said in a post on Yahoo's
official blog on Tuesday.
Yahoo is the No. 1 Web email product in
the United States and No. 3 worldwide, behind Google Inc's Gmail and
Microsoft Corp's Hotmail, according to comScore.
But the number of
unique users of Yahoo email declined 16 percent in November from a year
earlier in the United States and 7 percent worldwide in October,
according to comScore. Gmail's unique users increased 25 percent in the
U.S. in November and 20 percent worldwide in October.
Yahoo's email decline also owes partly to the broader trend of younger
Internet users who prefer to communicate with text messages rather than
Mayer, 37, is moving to revitalize Yahoo's various Web
products and reverse years of declining revenue. A former Google
executive, Mayer is widely admired in Silicon Valley for her Web product
savvy, though some analysts and investors have expressed caution,
noting that Mayer has never before led an entire company as CEO.
has said her top priority is to create a coherent mobile strategy for
Yahoo and that she intends for at least half of the company's technical
workforce to be working on mobile products.
As part of Tuesday's
announcement, Yahoo unveiled an update to its mobile email app for
smartphones based on the Android operating system, as well as Yahoo's
first stand-alone app for Apple's iPhone.
Yahoo also released a version designed for tablets and PCs based on Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system.
Sharma, General Manager of Yahoo Mail & Messenger, said the group
of new mobile apps was part of Yahoo's goal of ensuring that its
products are available across all major mobile platforms a move that
he said should help Yahoo's email stay popular with the younger
generation of users.
"Most of the new users, especially young
ones, are using mobile Internet devices. So the first order of things is
to make sure there are native experiences for them," said Sharma
referring to mobile apps that are specially designed for smartphones.
new PC version of Yahoo Mail features fewer ads, primarily by doing
away with pass-through Web pages that users previously encountered
before they could access their inbox and which appeared after a user
sent an email.
Eliminating those pages, and improvements to the
way Yahoo displays its email Web pages, means that users can now reach
their inboxes 40 percent faster, Sharma told Reuters in an interview on
Yahoo's email product is an important piece of Yahoo's
overall online business, serving as a conduit to bring in users which
Yahoo then tries to redirect to its other websites, such as news
articles, stock quotes and videos.
By simplifying the product's
look, Yahoo could increase the amount of time that users spend visiting
its online properties, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Andre Sequin.
website can be incredibly useful, but if a user interface is annoying
or has too many flashing ads, it can drive a person away," said Sequin.
compared Yahoo's email revamp to one of the key accomplishments that
Mayer is credited with at Google: the sparse homepage, which is free of
ads and prominently features a search engine box surrounded by white
"Improve the experience on mail and there's a good chance
you can get people to stay engaged with Yahoo properties for a long
time," said Sequin.
Shares of Yahoo were up 11 cents to $19.54 in midday trading on Tuesday.
stock has risen 25 percent since Mayer became CEO in July, reaching its
highest level since September 2008 when Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang was
The years between Yang and Mayer were tumultuous ones at
Yahoo, as the Web pioneer cycled through four different chief executives
and a variety of strategies.
Yahoo ranks among the world's most
popular websites, with roughly 700 million monthly visitors. But revenue
has eroded due to competition from Google and Facebook and changes in
the online advertising market that have compressed prices for the online
display ads that are key to Yahoo's business.
Many analysts and
tech-industry observers say Yahoo's online products have failed to keep
up with rivals when it comes to integrating innovative mobile and social
© Thomson Reuters 2012